kaigou: Internet! says the excited scribble (2 Internet!)
[personal profile] kaigou
Came across this:

The parts that intrigue me:

12:01 -- the guy's lowering a sail, but the ropes go through holes in a wooden piece. Is that a euphroe? (There was a description of junks using these; I could never find pictures, but that sure looks like how they were described.)

12:30 -- one guy's pulling down, but it looks like two more are pulling on the same rope. Why not all three pulling on the same side of the pulley? Why does one guy pull down and the other two pull sideways? Uh, are they raising sails?

12:32 -- jackpot! guy using tiller.

I've seen descriptions of older (as in, Tang dynasty) chinese ships that it took four or more guys to move the tiller, until they figured out fenestrated tillers. But I've never seen any of the rigging around a tiller, not like this guy with the ropes. Are those just to make it easier to move the tiller back/forth?

Also, there's a shot midway through showing the pilot, where you can see the sails also shifting direction. I can't tell if that's just bad editing or if I'm supposed to get the impression that this change in the sail-angle is related to the change in the tiller. Is it? Or is it a matter of the tiller changing to match what the sailors are doing?

...shows like this are useful for a sense of size and info about the different (later-era) ship styles, but sheesh, I still wish someone had a clip -- with explanation! -- about how and what the pilot is doing when he's steering the ship. It looks like there's a lot more going on than just the hollywood-version where someone stands at the wheel and moves it back and forth.

36:44 -- the railing are OPEN, whut! I've seen on some later-era junks that there was a mid-ships opening in the railing used (from what I gather) to have an easier time loading stuff on/off. Then some kind of board was pulled up or across, to close off the opening as the ship pushed away from the dock. But why would you have an open railing that's just a railing and long stretches of open with netting between them? Is there some functional reason for this, or is this a case of just saving money in construction by not having solid sides along there?

Date: 3 Dec 2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
leorising: (kitteninfood)
From: [personal profile] leorising
It strikes me that these folks might be able to answer your questions. I saw the tall ships when they were visiting Newport, OR, and they're pretty cool. The crews regularly fight mock battles wherever they travel.


The contact page only gives one email address, but if you write that addy and explain that you have these questions, they might get you in touch with the crew, or someone else who is knowledgeable. Don't be shy to ask, at least; their main role is public outreach and education.

Good luck!

Date: 4 Dec 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
leorising: (ottersquee)
From: [personal profile] leorising
Wow! Magical nautical infodump ahoy! *salutes*

Date: 3 Dec 2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac

12:01 -- the guy's lowering a sail, but the ropes go through holes in a wooden piece. Is that a euphroe?
It is, or a near relation (euphroe usually more suspended, but depends where you need it and why.

12:30 -- one guy's pulling down, but it looks like two more are pulling on the same rope. Why not all three pulling on the same side of the pulley? Why does one guy pull down and the other two pull sideways? Uh, are they raising sails?
Looks like they're finishing raising/tightening up a sail. The technique is for the first person to pull directly on the halyard to create slack, while the others provide the pull to hold it there and get it tied off correctly. They're using block and pulley which is a much easier way to tighten sail.

12:32 -- jackpot! guy using tiller.
I'm not seeing a tiller there, and ships like that were usually wheel steered (all the rudder rigging hidden down off the deck), but could be converted to tiller in cases of absolute necessity, usally involving a spare yard and a lot of rope.

Also, there's a shot midway through showing the pilot, where you can see the sails also shifting direction. I can't tell if that's just bad editing or if I'm supposed to get the impression that this change in the sail-angle is related to the change in the tiller. Is it? Or is it a matter of the tiller changing to match what the sailors are doing?
The sails change according to wind direction, strength and desired heading of the boat - but ideally the person at helm (tiller) dictates all. I can explain the helm's actions in more detail, but how much do you know of the mechanics of sailing, because I don't want to info-dump at you?

36:44 -- the railing are OPEN, whut!
I imagine that allows for deck guns. Probably retro-fitted.

Hi, I am a nerd and also a sailor.

Date: 3 Dec 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
OK then, this is the points of sail to beginners talk! Read the links as you go for detail.



Sails work as aerofoils, essentially.
Therefore directions available to a ship under sail are dictated by the wind direction, because you have to angle the ship in order to fill the sail, and different angles achieve different effects. These are your points of sail.

This dictates how close you can get to facing into the wind without the boat going into irons. This is when the sails empty, the ship slows, stops or starts going backwards. Your warning is when the sail edges start to flap - this is luffing.

Now you have a 40-80 degree zone in which the ship cannot sail. Modern racer dinghies and yachts (Bermuda rig ) can get up to about 40 degrees, gaff rig like junks can't et quite as close, a square rig like the video can only get 80 or less.

The helm is both the rudder/tiller and the person(s) controlling it. This controls everything else about the ship. Pilots are a different breed entirely - they are experts on certain areas, who will either come on board to guide the helm through tricky waters or remain on a pilot boat to lead another ship through the correct path. I think this is your point of confusion - two different people, two different functions.

Now, the helm's entire job is to get the ship going in the direction he wants, as fast as he can get her to go.
The rudder and sails interplay - you need to adjust the sails to keep the full and this may mean tightening/releasing or slightly changing the tiller direction.

In strong winds you need to reduce sail - by reefing (reducing sail area) or setting smaller sails. In light winds you need to increas sail area, by loosening sails and setting extra ones. Some sails will be furled completely to allow other sails to be set at different points of sail, especially on square rigged ships.


The three main types of rig are worked in different ways.
Bermuda rigging is triangular with the sail attached along mast and boom. Depending on the type, the sails will be reefed by wrapping it around the boom or mast. To take the sail in completely it will be dropped to deck or furled around the boom or mast.

Gaff rigging is four-pointed and the sail is suspended from the spar, attached along mast and boom. These are usually reefed and furled by furling along the boom or using reef point ties to reduce sail area.

Square rigging is also four pointed and suspended on a yardarm from the yards (masts). They can be furled and reefed in a number of ways depending on the ship in question. They can be taken down completely (with or without the yardarm), reefed by reef points or replaced with smaller sails. Square rigs have much more sail flexibility because of the size and crew number of these ships.

Sails are always reefed or furled in the most convenient way - most yachts and dinghies reef and furl around the mast and boom because these are easily done afloat. Gaff rigs tie off because that's the easiest bit to reach afloat. Square rigs have more interchangeable sails and can be reefed and furled around the yardarm from above because the masts and yards can be climbed.

And I think I might have killed the comment function, so ask away about specifics, keeping in mind that I've mostly sailed bermuda rig (and an elderly, cranky gaff rig oh my god disaster).

Date: 4 Dec 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
thistleburr: The Kalmar Nyckel with full sails (Kalmar Nyckel)
From: [personal profile] thistleburr
Just for clarity, a "square" sail doesn't mean that the square is shaped like a square. It means that the sail is "square" to the ship - that it doesn't go fore-and-aft.

Date: 4 Dec 2012 07:11 am (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
More or less. It's the natural position of the sail when head to wind - square will sit athwart the ship empty, gaff and bermuda will return to the centre of the boat.

Date: 4 Dec 2012 10:11 am (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
Head to wind - the head (front) of the boat is facing into the wind. If you let the sails fly loose and turn the boat windward, this is the position it will stop in. This is why you lose speed on a tack, because you turn the boat through the wind and the sails empty - so if you're too slow completing the turn, you stop.

Athwart - basically, yes. The thwarts are the braces that run across the ship.

Return to centre - pretty much. Most noticable in centre-sheeted bermuda rigs, where the point of control for the sail runs from the centreline of the boat. In other types the sail will still sit slightly to windward, because the controlling sheets will have been left pulled to the side.

In really small dinghies with no stays you can sometimes get the boat sitting with the back to the wind and the sail straight out the front, but this usually means you've broken it.

Date: 4 Dec 2012 08:11 am (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
OH. Oh no, lateen is a different rigging method again. It's a style you only really see in the Mediterranean and Micronesia, because it's very maneouverable but really requires quite light winds - you have no control on the bottom of a huge sail, so big gusts make your life very interesting in all the wrong ways. You also have, as you spotted, the 'bad tack', which has a few solutions, including the fabulous example of relentless engineer think that is the Proa rig, but mostly the problems are compensated by the advantages.

Junks overcame the problem by swinging their (much shorter) yards around the mast - your sail is stiffened with battons, so it's rigid and you don't get the problem the lateen sails have on tack and can swing it round to allow the airflow straight over the sail. That older style of junk wouldn't have done much heading to windward, but they weren't working in waters where that was important - once it becomes important to have that you see modern gaff rig develop on the junks, with the yard set nearer the corner. In both cases, the yard is suspended from the head of the mast, so you can pull the yard along on the mast by the way you set the sail on the bottom corner.

With the battened sail, the edges are stiff, so you don't need to rely on the mast to direct airflow.

Edited Date: 4 Dec 2012 08:12 am (UTC)

Date: 5 Dec 2012 08:19 am (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
Yeah, that's the bad tack - you have one tack where you lose the use of part of the sail.

The sail has to move closer to parallel to the side of the ship the closer to the wind you want to go, so that's how you get the movement along the mast and then to gaff, yes.

The deep water and stronger winds aren't less of a factor than the direction of the prevailing winds - the further you go the more you need the ability to sail to windward to get home, and the off-centre sail lets you do that.

Date: 3 Dec 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
thistleburr: The Kalmar Nyckel with full sails (Kalmar Nyckel)
From: [personal profile] thistleburr
The Lady Washington actually does have a tiller, not a wheel or a whipstaff, so I think that's her tiller in the video.

Also, hello fellow sailor :)

Date: 3 Dec 2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
thistleburr: The Kalmar Nyckel with full sails (Kalmar Nyckel)
From: [personal profile] thistleburr
A whipstaff is basically an extra, vertical lever added to a tiller to give you extra leverage over the tiller. It lets you steer a big ship without having a huge, long tiller taking up a lot of space. Technologically-speaking, they existed in between the tiller and the wheel.

This is what the tiller on the Lady Washington (in the video) looks like:

If you add an extra pivot point and a vertical lever to the end of that tiller, and then move the tiller below deck, you get a whipstaff, which looks like this:

The guy in the video moving the tiller on the Lady Washington has to throw his whole body into it, but I can move the tiller on the ship I sail on with one hand by using our whipstaff.
Edited Date: 3 Dec 2012 07:15 pm (UTC)

Date: 3 Dec 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
thistleburr: The Kalmar Nyckel with full sails (Kalmar Nyckel)
From: [personal profile] thistleburr
Haha, you're welcome :) The thing about tillers is, to get more mechanical advantage (and make them easier to operate,) you need to make the tiller itself longer and longer. Eventually that gets to the point where it becomes impractical.

Date: 3 Dec 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
Eg: the Pico dinghy, where the tiller is so well optimised for child sailors that an adult can give themselves a black eye with the extension...

Date: 3 Dec 2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
thistleburr: The Kalmar Nyckel with full sails (Kalmar Nyckel)
From: [personal profile] thistleburr
Well I was thinking more about large tall ships with extremely heavy rudders. Eventually the tiller needed to move a heavy rudder would have to be so long that it would be too long for the ship.

Date: 3 Dec 2012 10:08 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
It's just the two extremes of the same issue, isn't it :D

Date: 3 Dec 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
Mostly dinghies, but in the habit of cornering Tall Ships crew in Waterford pubs every summer!

Date: 3 Dec 2012 10:06 pm (UTC)
thistleburr: The Kalmar Nyckel with full sails (Kalmar Nyckel)
From: [personal profile] thistleburr
Maybe you should consider joining a tall ship crew? It's lots of fun... :)

Date: 3 Dec 2012 10:09 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
I am too wuss for the heights involved, sadly - I got to the crows nest the Europa mainmast when they came into Belfast last, went 'Neep!' and had to come down again in a hurry. Keelboat race crew is as big as I go!
Edited Date: 3 Dec 2012 10:12 pm (UTC)

Date: 3 Dec 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
thistleburr: The Kalmar Nyckel with full sails (Kalmar Nyckel)
From: [personal profile] thistleburr
There are tall ships where climbing is not required... ;)

Date: 4 Dec 2012 07:12 am (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
When I am a rich lady of leisure, maybe.

Date: 4 Dec 2012 08:29 am (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
Yes, helm is always thinking about the heel of the ship. However, under sail the rudder is less of an issue than what the sail is doing.

The more pressure on the sail, the more speed, but the more the ship will heel up windward - this is why you see racers piling the crew over to the windward side to balance the boat down. Weather helm is the result of the sail being too full/too pressured and is more of an issue on a bigger ship (dinghies, yachts and small keelboats will have hit 'Oh shit we're on our ear, dump sail' before the ability to steer is much affected).

A lot of craft have a moveable keel/centreboard, that lets you change the profile of the keel in the water - you need less on a reach or run, as much as you can get when the sail is highly pressured on the beat.

What the paragraph writer is not saying is that if your helm is so heavy that you need to sheet out (loosen the sail), the boat is also heeled so far that life is rapidly becoming too interesting. Tall ships and junks have ballast to hold them down in the water and are more vulnerable to the helm going heavy than to catastrophic heeling. However, you can do it, and it's a lot harder to pull it back from the edge, so their helms tend to be somewhat more cautious about it. Catamarans, in contrast, can be sailed with one hull in the air if you want to.

And yes, you can change direction abruptly by hanging on the tiller, and this is why the two things you hear me say most while dinghy coaching are 'Tiller away from you, AWAY FROM YOU!' and 'Let go the mainsheet, LET IT GO!' because the immediate reaction to the boat heeling up in most people is to yank everything in towards them, tightening the sail and turning the back of the boat into the wind. Which in that situation leads to a) boat heeling over even more and b) jibe (boat changing direction with sails full) and that leads to c) capsize.

It is thankfully a lot harder to do that on a ship.

ETA: And I shouldn't be talking about sailing before coffee because then I mix up windward and leeward. *facepalm*
Edited Date: 4 Dec 2012 11:40 am (UTC)

Date: 5 Dec 2012 12:39 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
You are asking considerably more coherent questions than my average 11-year-old beginner, believe me! Or, in fact, my dad.

One thing I do twig on is something my friend K also mentioned, and I've still not got a sense of: when the boat jibes ... I'm trying to figure out whether with most things equal, jibing is the result of crazy wind-changing directions, or of an inexperienced helm trying to change direction too quickly and/or without proper prep. Or could be either, but the helm would get the blame anyway?.

Ah, no, jibing is a totally legitimate way to turn the boat, it's just that you really don't want to do it without knowing what you've got yourself into, because once you start turning downwind everything happens very fast.

So. There are two ways to turn a boat - into the wind (tack), or away (jibe). In each case, the tiller will be hard over either towards or away from the helm, the sails will change sides, and in smaller boats the crew and helm will also cross the boat to be on the windward side for balance.

Square rigs actually jibe (wear) in bad weather by preference to tacking, because its dead easy to do and you don't have to play about with backing sails - remember they can't get nearly as close to the wind as other rigs so tacking takes a lot of skilled sail setting. Junks, particularly the non-gaff styles, may well be similar although you'd need to get someone who's sailed one to confirm. Bermuda, gaff, and lateen rigs are more vulnerable to gusts and helm error in a jibe, so will tack by preference if the conditions are getting too hairy.

When I'm teaching kids to jibe in bermuda rigged dinghies, where jibes are most dangerous, I explain to them that there are four kinds:
1) The one you did intentionally and did right.
2) The one you did intentionally and cocked up.
3) The one you did by accident.
4) The one where it all goes horribly wrong.

The one you intended to do is just the opposite of tacking - you turn the head of the boat away from the wind instead of through it. However, it is much less simple than tacking because the sails stay full as the boat turns. So you are turning at speed, usually off your fastest point of sail on that tack, onto your fastest point of sail on the other - so you're already heeling, you don't want to take in much sail because then you'll lose speed and heel more, and your sail is about to cross the boat unpredictably and very very fast. And if you are heeling too far when that happens the sail will hit the water and capsize you. This is also where people get hit with the boom. You're extremely vulnerable to gusts - I once spent an entertaing day teaching jibing with massive gusts coming in. Even in storm sails, we did a lot of swimimng.

The key to a sucessful jibe is to straighten up the tiller far sooner than you think you need to, before the turn is complete and control the sail at all costs. If you look at footage of Ben Ainslie jibing a Finn (use the 'gybe' spelling for youtube), for example, you'll see him grab the centre sheeting and flick the sail across as he changes sides, to prevent it slamming over by itself and unbalancing the whole thing.

The whole thing is a lot easier in a square rigged tall ship or a junk but the sheer speed of the maneouver means everyone still needs to be paying attention. There are plenty of stories of inattentive tall ship and yacht crew getting hit by the boom on a jibe. It take more effort to get hit on a junk because their sails are rigged higher (to avoid the high fore and aft decks) and with their battened sails they may not even have a boom - you could still get clocked, but it won't kill you, which the solid boom on a tall ship or yacht easily could.

ETA: There is, hoewever, a particularly catastrophic gybe where the top of the sail flicks over but the bottom doesn't, which is known as the 'Chinese gybe'. The name dates from when European ships started encountering junks, although nobody's clear whether they were seeing the junks do it, or whether it was the conditions in Chinese waters that led to it. I would suspect conditions, as its hard to do that with a battened sail, but either way, unless you're very good, its very difficult to recover from, as everything is on the wrong side and under tension. If it hadn't broken (it often happens when the vang/kicker that holds the boom down breaks).

Which makes me wonder about how these things get passed along, how everyone knows what to do.

It's basically all about the shouting. Once you have more than one person in a boat, the helm must communicate everything. So if I was helming with J as crew and want to jibe, I'd call 'Jibe', when he confirms, I call 'Jibe on three. One. Two. Three' (traditionally the call is 'Bearing away' but we work better on the count of three), put the tiller over on three and call 'Jibe ho' as the sail starts moving.

At speed, and especially when the jibe is accidental, the tiller and boom going over may happen all together, so you don't get the chance for the last call or you combine calls. With an inexperienced helm and crew the jibe may instead be accompanied by the instructor screaming 'GET YOUR HEAD DOWN' and some manhandling.

Once you get into the big ships with multiple sails and crew, the helm is no longer solely responsible for the ship - the master and the officer of the watch are in charge, and will be telling them and the rest of the crew what to do and when (especially when the helm is belowdeck). For minor adjustments the master will just shout, or have the word passed to the person responsible, for orchestrating a full change of direction different navies will have different methods, but the sequence for command is always to call what you're going to do, call as you do it, and call when you complete it. If someone comes back on the first call with a negative and the turn is not for an emergency, everything is held off until the issue is cleared.

On British Navy and Merchant Navy ships, whistle patterns were common, as they carry over the wind (this is where not whistling backstage comes from, as so many stagehands were retired sailors). I'm not sure what they'd use in junks.

Not every helm adjustment requires a sail adjustment - there's a lot of interplay, and both are constantly adjusted. For minor helm adjustements, the helm may not need to communicate anything, the persons responsible for the sail will adjust the setting in response to the changed behaviour of the sail before the word reaches them. Remember that an experienced crew can more of less anticipate everything that the helm/master will do in any given conditions, and the more experienced the crew the faster they will react.

For instance, if I go out on one of the high performance dinghies with J, we skip a lot of the calls that we beat into the kids, because we've been sailing together the guts of 15 years. If I play with the tiller to get rid of a luff in the mainsail, he'll have started compensating the jib sail before I finish the tiller movement.
Edited Date: 5 Dec 2012 12:58 pm (UTC)

Date: 5 Dec 2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
In fairness, the Laser is massively tippy because it's a planing hull designed to skim along atop the water, proper keels have much more stability. The true high performance planing dinghies have the crew out on trapeezes to keep the balance, best of them being the 49er, a boat so insanely unstable that one gust can cause complete carnage in an Olympic race.

But if you want to give yourself nightmares, this is Telefonica narrowly escaping a knockdown on an unexpected gybe. They lost a rudder and half their batons on that one.

That is terrible explanation of sailing. Terrible. This one with the adorable and endlessly patient Hunter Lowden is pretty nice (I particularly like the gentleman who knows how it works, but can't figure out how to explain it). The next one in the series explains how to race a 49er, which is essentially 'have no fear, be a crazy person'.

Date: 6 Dec 2012 11:32 am (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
Telefonica. They were really lucky they got home unassisted at all - they were already sailing with one busted whent hey did the chinese gybe and broke the other.

The Volvo Ocean Races are nuts. Plain nuts.

Date: 6 Dec 2012 12:16 pm (UTC)
marymac: Noser from Middleman (Default)
From: [personal profile] marymac
Yeah, sailing is pretty evenly balanced at the youth and dinghy level (allowing for weight related disproportions across hulls), but the ocean racing ratio is about 1:4 at best, partly from nasty sponsor prejudices and also weight/strength factors - this is why the Volvo crew limit is 2 higher for an all-female crew.

So much of ocean-going sailing is second-guessing what the weather will do next, under sail or engine. The meterology just isn't there yet.
flat again.

The Volvo documentaries are great, because they assume that if their audience was interested enough to watch, they want to know EVERYTHING. Also it's hard to hide how freaked your team were when there's video evidence of them clinging on for dear life as the ship went on her ear. By the by, if you're liking the Volvo stuff, the Camper team site is very nicely done, with some nice bits explaining why they chose certain people and what skills they wanted them for.


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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